Elliott Carter, the ambassador of modern American music composers and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, (who was born during the same year that Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908) died of natural causes this past Monday in his New York City apartment.
Carter's music was championed by many of the world's great orchestras and conductors. He also wrote in a wide variety of genres including songs, opera and chamber music, which, in later years, earned him Pulitzer Prizes for his string quartets in 1960 and 1973.
Born into a well-to-do family of lace importers, Carter spent a portion of his childhood in Europe, speaking French before he mastered English. His parents were not musical themselves, but they provided him with the opportunity to take piano lessons during his youth. He later developed an interest in modern music after enrolling in New York's Horace Mann School in 1922. Two years later, Carter was introduced to the maverick American composer Charles Ives, who took him to concerts and wrote a letter in support of Carter's admission to Harvard.
In the early 1930s, Carter, like many American composers, moved to Paris to study with legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. Never pleased with the music he wrote during his three-year period with her, he instead insisted that his immersion into performing early vocal music and studying Bach were his main influences.
Carter eventually returned to the United States and began composing what he called "American music," inspired by the spirit of the times and the influence of jazz music.
"I remember my First Symphony, which is rather conservative and somewhat jazzy, was played down at Cooper Union," Carter had said when interviewed, "and Duke Ellington was in the audience. And he came back and said, 'It seems to me, Mr. Carter, that you're interested in jazz.' "
And that he truly was. Carter had listened to the great jazz pianist Art Tatum play on 52nd Street and later became a fan of Thelonious Monk. But after the war, his music changed, beginning with his Piano Sonata of 1946. Carter said he wanted to reclaim the modernist sensibility that first inspired him to compose. In 1948, he wrote his Cello Sonata for Bernard Greenhouse, who went on to co-found the Beaux Arts Trio.
Carter found much of his musical inspiration in surprising places. In one of his last filmed interviews with the cellist Alisa Weilerstein, he explains the way that he came up with the percussive sounds that interrupt the more meditative passages in his Cello Concerto (a recording of which Weilerstein had just released at the time). It all started, he explained, with a visit to the Kyoto Moss Gardens.
"The moss gardens had many streams of water to keep the moss alive," he explained. "And it had little bamboo tubes ... and when they were filled they would turn over and there would be a loud snap. And I put that into the concerto."
Greetings to Everyone and A Big Welcome to Infinity Music Studio! My name is Suzanne Brittania. I have been teaching piano and voice lessons for over 40 plus years. It is my hope that you will find all the following information, along with the music videos listed within my blog, to be very interesting, helpful and inspiring all throughout your own musical journey.
The videos listed below are of famous opera stars (that I performed with extensively all throughout my earlier musical career) especially during the 1950's and 60's.
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